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U.S. cattle herd not in expansion mode yet

The CEO of CattleFax says it will take more time before the U.S. cattle herd is in expansion mode.

Randy Blach says the first step is for herd liquidation to slow and there’s a few early signs that’s happening.

“We’re at a stable place relative to heifer retention. We’re not in full fledged expansion mode yet, but we’ve quit liquidating. On the cow side, we’ve gone through a 12 to 13% drop in non-fed slaughter. We’re starting to see that slow down significantly.”

Blach says by January 1, 2025, the U.S. cow herd is likely going to be smaller and a much smaller decline compared to previous years.

He says a sign that indicates herd expansion is profitability.

“We finally have cow-calf producers who are profitable, but we went 7 years without a payday. People stacked up some debt and I think that’s part of the reason we’re not seeing expansion.”

And another sign is green grass.

“The drought monitor index looks as good today across the U.S. as it has in quite some time,” Blach says. “Unfortunately, all of the forecasts are by fall we’ll be back into a La Nina drying pattern with more heat.”

Brownfield interviewed Blach at the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Spring Conference in Kansas City. Hear the interview.

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